Data-crunching by Jess Carson, a research assistant professor with the Vulnerable Families Research Program at the Carsey School of Public Policy., finds a correlation between lots of vacation homes and relatively high rates of COVID-19. Notice I said correlation, not causation:
Rural counties with high shares of seasonally vacant housing are seeing higher rates of COVID-19 cases than either urban or other rural areas. In the nation’s 199 rural counties where seasonal housing accounts for 25 percent or more of all housing units, average cases per 100,000 are more than twice as high as in other rural counties and 15 percent higher than in urban areas as of April 5.
This is consistent with anecdotal reports of hot spots in popular vacation locations as visitors, including some who are unknowingly infected, exit urban areas attempting to socially distance at second homes and seasonal rental properties. There are, however, several possible explanations for the higher prevalence of cases including differences in the level of testing and the higher median age seen in these areas.
That last point is key: Testing is sporadic in rural areas, which could tweak the results, and vacation spots are often full of old people who get sick faster from coronavirus.